Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Prepaid Valet - a new Telecentre business model

Prepaid valet is an equivalent to the prepaid mobile card model in telecentre eco-system. In the pre-paid card model, customer has to load an amount of money into a designated account in advance. Then variety of services will be bought to match the money value. When money depletes, the account will be toped up by the customer.

Prepaid Valet is the latest enterprise model introduced by Drishtee to their 1650 telecentre operators. Valet is a fixed amount of money (about 4000Rs) to be set aside by each telecentre. Drishtee offer pool of services / products to the teleceneter to match the value. Telecentre has to top-up the money when the amount depletes.

The services offered though this model includes insurance packages, education programs, mobile phone recharging, mobile phone selling, emergency light selling etc.

Though they introduced this model only about 10 months ago, already 1300 telecentres subscribe to the model. Drishtee support the telecentre operator to find money for prepaid valet by arranging bank loans, micro-finance etc. Furthermore, a centrally managed MIS (management Information System) monitors the operation of each telecentre vaulet. A call centre runs as a help desk to provide assistance for the telecentre operators, who need extra assistance for valet operation.

Average value of valet range between 3000 – 4000 Rs, but depending on the transaction volume, value can fluctuate.

This model provides a better financial leverage for Drishtee to organize bulk-service buying with larger vendors, thus enabling to offer services at telecentres at an affordable price. Further it builds up better-control at the telecentre operators at their financial handling.

Elements of telecentre Eco-system

When the attention on Sustainability builds up, the challenge grows up to draw the lines between the stakeholders within the telecentre eco-system. Because, so far the research engagement did not try to distinguish the sectors (stakeholders) constituting the telecentre eco-system, instead attempted to map the issues, constraints, champions, best practices etc looking at the broader picture (overall eco-system). But, as the study goes on, as multiple professionals tend to interact with the subject, naturally the demand rises to recognize the specific demands at each stakeholder level.
So the question no 1 (Q1): Who are the stakeholders?
> Telecentre operators (at grassroots level)
> Telecentre networks (networking 10s, 100s & 1000s of telecentres under one umbrella)
> Community (who interact with telecentres )
> Service providers (who provide services to the telecentres / networks)

Q2: Why are these stakeholders important?
These stakeholders collectively thread the overall eco-system. They are interdependent and complementary.

Q3: Should we consider them individually in the sustainability journey?
Probably yes, because, the demand at each stakeholder is different.
> expectations of sustainability
> perception into the sustainability
> capacity to contribute to the sustainability
> urge / readiness to engage with sustainability

Here is one example:

There are four contrasting stakeholders in the telecentre eco-system of Polithathya model of Bangladesh; Prawn Farmer, Mobile Lady, Telecentre Owner, Telecentre Network facilitator (D.Net).

Prawn farmer: looking forward to have the most appropriate treatment to his epidemic at farm, quickly and cheaply.

Mobile lady: seeking to continue her job, find more community members with questions, generate bit more revenue, find a better incentive.

Telecentre owner: struggle to maintain / upgrade computes, pay bills, enhance services, and find the breakeven point, if not a small profit.

Network facilitator: grapple with more complex issues, maintain a good floor of knowledge services / products, add more value, maintain a competent carder of human resources (very expensive), expand institutional status, and all these add more into the final budgetary demands.

Thus it may require different approaches to the same question of sustainability, differently at each layer of eco-system.